Category Archives: California

Moonrise tour of Point Sur Light Station

Point Sur Light Station1 stands on a 350 foot tall rock on the California coast about 25 miles south of Monterey.

Point Sur Light Station seen from along California Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway).  The station's buildings are all on top of the small hill / rock that rises from the ocean behind a grassy meadow on this blustery day. (Marc C. Perkins)
Point Sur Light Station seen from California Highway 1. The tall structure visible at the top is the water tower; the lighthouse itself is not easily visible from the highway.

Michelle and I were lucky enough to be passing by the light station in time for one of their rare moonrise tours (okay, I’ll admit, we planned our trip up the coast around the tour …). These tours happen once or twice a month at (you guessed it) the full moon. The tours start shortly before sunset, and end with the moon rising over the lighthouse.

The old entrance sign to Point Sur Light Station.  The sign is now on display in the museum at the station. (Marc C. Perkins)
The old entrance sign to Point Sur Light Station. The sign is now on display in the museum at the station.

The tour starts with everyone waiting at the entrance sign to the State Historic Park & Lighthouse. I was advised to arrive early to ensure a spot in the tour, and while arriving early turned out to not be necessary, it did help me realize just how windy it was going to be. The wind was constant, strong, and cold. I bundled up for the night, and was glad I did. Once the docents arrived everyone was let through the gate and drove to the base of the rock the lighthouse stands on (where one of only two bathrooms on the tour are found).

We soon started walking up the road that leads to the lighthouse. The road is not for the acrophobic: it’s a steep paved road about one car wide that’s chiseled into the edge of the steep rock face with no fence or barrier between the edge and a long drop to the ocean. The road by itself would be fine, but the constant seemingly gale-force winds made people stay far from the edge (and parents hold onto their children rather tightly). Here’s what it looks like:

The docents broke our moon rise tour of Point Sur Light Station into two groups; I was in the first, and in this picture we're looking back at the second group taking a break on the road up to the top of the rock the station is located on.  The road to the top has no fence, and the edge steeply drops off to the ocean.  It'd be fun to walk on if there hadn't been gale force winds. (Marc C. Perkins)
The docents broke our tour into two groups; I was in the first, and in this picture we're looking back at the second group taking a break on the road up to the top.

The road was a bit of a climb, but persevering paid off with our first view of the lighthouse peeking over the hillside.

The first view of Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse that I got on the day was this one: the lamp room peeking over the hillside as we walked along the narrow roadway tacked onto the hillside.  The ocean and sun setting behind incoming coastal fog set the scene nicely. (Marc C. Perkins)
My first view of Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse.
Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse peeking over the top of the hillside it's built on.  This is seen from the road that climbs the hill to reach the lighthouse.  The day was incredibly windy, and the only barrier on the steep hillside is the vertical wooden beams you can see in the picture.  The hillside was covered in blooms, making it beautiful. (Marc C. Perkins)
Point Sur Light shining proud.

Any acrophobia I might have had disappeared entirely with this view ūüôā

Even without the lighthouse peeking into view, the walk to the top was filled with entertainment: blooming plants lined the hillside, and the ocean was a beautiful seafoam green.

A hillside covered in blooming plants (yellow, red, and purple) provide foreground for the sandstone assistant keeper's house at the Point Sur Light Station.  Three families lived in this house at one time. (Marc C. Perkins)
Assistant Keepers' House.
The water of the ocean to the west of Point Sur Light Station was turned sea foam green thanks to the action of waves and high winds.  In this image the blooming hillside is in the frame, providing contrast. (Marc C. Perkins)
Seafoam green. I always thought this was a silly name for a paint color, not a real color!

The lighthouse itself was built in 1889, and is still a functioning navigational aid. The building and its interior are built in the classic lighthouse style of elegant functional simplicity.

Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse seen from the ocean-facing side.  A docent from the tour is walking out of the main door of the lighthouse, providing scale.  The lighthouse is built on the northern end of the rock the station is on; the stairway visible to the right leads to the rest of the light station. (Marc C. Perkins)
Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse. A docent from the tour is standing by the main door of the lighthouse, providing scale.
A view from the bottom of the stairway leading to the top of Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse's lantern room.  I'm a total sucker for lighthouse stairways ? the white iron stairway contrasts beautifully with the wooden central beam and brick exterior (with light streaming in through a window). (Marc C. Perkins)
I'm a total sucker for lighthouse stairways.
A section of the black iron stairway that leads to the top of the lantern room of Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse.  I love the contrasty, beautifully textured iron. (Marc C. Perkins)
A section of the iron stairway that leads to the top of the lantern room of Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse.

Some of the most intriguing structures were pieces of cut glass embedded in the floor of the lantern room’s upper level. These were designed to capture the light from the primary source and diffuse it down to the lower levels of the lighthouse building, allowing the lighthouse’s main tower to be lit solely by the primary light. They’re miniature sunroofs if you will.

A set of light diffusing glass crystals placed into the floor of the walkway that surrounds the light in Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse.  Photographed from underneath, these crystals are used to illuminate the walkway underneath the light by catching the lighthouse's primary light and diffusing it down to the walkway underneath. (Marc C. Perkins)
A set of light diffusing/diffracting glass crystals placed into the floor of the walkway that surrounds the light in Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse.

In addition to being able to walk around in the lantern room and look at everything up close, we even got to climb out onto the walkway surrounding the lantern room and enjoy the view:

A view looking up the California Coast from the walkway outside the lantern room at the top of Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse.  The view was incredible, with low fog rolling in as the sun set, and the sea foam green ocean waves lapping up along the sandy shore.  The railing in front provides scale, but doesn't show how incredibly windy it was. (Marc C. Perkins)
A view from the walkway outside the lantern room of Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse.

The view was great (the sun was setting behind the coastal clouds), but even more amazing was how WINDY it was. The door to the walkway was on the leeward side of the building, and so there was virtually no wind there. But walk even a few feet from the door and you suddenly get slammed with a wall of wind. Walking through this wall took tremendous effort (as you can see if you look closely at this picture).

After the tour of the inside of the lantern room we got to climb above the lighthouse, and from there I think I was able to capture a bit of the feel of the night: the slowly rotating dual beams of the lighthouse sweeping over the broad expanse of the ocean while coastal clouds roll in at dusk.

A view of the Pacific Ocean with Point Sur Light Station's light house in the foreground.  The sun has just set, and low marine clouds cover the sky, while the light can be seen rotating.  The view from the lighthouse is just stunning.  This view includes almost none of the hillside, as opposed to #2. (Marc C. Perkins)
A view of the Pacific Ocean at dusk with Point Sur Light Station's lighthouse in the foreground.

A few minutes later we headed to the southern end of the station and watched the moon rise, with the Pacific Ocean, Highway 1, and the California coast as background.

The rising full moon is reflected off of the Pacific Ocean within view of one of the buildings at Point Sur Light Station (the barracks).  I love how golden light streams out of the building's windows, illuminating the native plants on the hillside.  This image is the ultimate summary of the station's moon rise tours: they're just gorgeous, and you should go on one if you can! (Marc C. Perkins)
Moonrise over Point Sur Light Station.

I could have stayed in that spot a long, long time (assuming I had a heater with me).

If you’re ever in the area, check and see if there’s a tour. As the moon rises the docents break out hot chocolate (available for a suggested donation of $1!2), and life is good.

Footnotes

1 Point Sur is a light station, not just a lighthouse, because it was built to be an independent facility. When it was built there was no easy road that connected it to Monterey, so it was in an extremely remote location. It housed multiple families at a time, and had all the facilities needed for independence: a blacksmith shop, woodworking shop, barn, water tower, and multiple houses.
2 Sadly, I missed the hot chocolate. The entire tour was difficult to photograph, as the tour was not aimed at photographers. The only time I could break out a tripod was as the moon rose, and since we only had about 10 or 15 minutes it was either hot cocoa or pictures, and you know which I’ll choose every time.
.

More pictures

To see more pictures from the light station, head to my Point Sur Light Station – Highlights Gallery or, if you’re really a glutton for punishment, head to my Point Sur Light Station – Entire Set Gallery.

Getting There

Point Sur State Historic Park & Lighthouse: Located along California Highway 1 about 25 miles south of Monterey, the entrance to the park is at a small gate along the west side of the highway. The GPS coordinates for the entrance to the park are N 36 18.578 W 121 53.165; it’s just north of the Point Sur Naval Station and near the California Sea Otter Game Refuge. See the park’s website for more information on location and schedules of tours.

The station is a state park run entirely by volunteers; it’s only open during guided tours, and there is no access at other times. You do need to plan ahead: if you stop by at a random time, you’ll get a picture much like the first one of this post and then drive on your way, never knowing what you missed. Parking is free (stop by the gate at first, and then drive into a small lot at the base of the rock once a docent opens the gate), and bathrooms are limited (there’s one at the interior parking lot, and one in the last building the tour goes through). There are no public facilities on the highway near the lighthouse.

The moonrise tour occurs only during full moons. As you gathered from the post, it can be EXTREMELY windy: I highly recommend a hat, gloves, windproof jacket, and warm layers underneath. I wore all that, and was cold; many people on the trip reported being very, very cold. Docents report that it’s less windy in the fall. The park runs other tours that meet during the day; these apparently go through more of the buildings.

OCC Ornamental Horticulture Club’s First Place Garden

South Coast Plaza has a Spring Garden Show every year, and every year they have a contest for local landscape designers and schools to build judged gardens inside the mall. This year’s garden theme was “Healing Gardens”, and Orange Coast College’s Ornamental Horticulture Department Club built a garden for the visually impaired; OCC’s garden won first place in the competition!

A head-on view of Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  The garden's centerpiece is a 1957 restored globe for the blind, with the world geography in exaggerated height to be sensed by the touch of blind people; the locations of plants in the garden was indicated in braille on the globe.  This picture was taken Thursday April 27, 2012 at ~9pm, less than 48 hours after my in-progress pictures. (Marc C. Perkins)
A head-on view of the garden.

The team had only three days to build the entire garden on site. I took in-progress pictures of the team building the garden less than 48 hours before, and was amazed when I returned and saw the finished product. It’s a gorgeous work, and it also seems very functional for the visually impaired. The plants were chosen for texture and scent, and many are labeled in Braille:

A small portion of Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  This image shows how many of the plants were described in braille. (Marc C. Perkins)But the centerpiece of the garden is a restored 1957 braille world globe, one of only 500 made.

A view of the braille world globe in Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  The garden's centerpiece is a 1957 restored globe for the blind, with the world geography in exaggerated height to be sensed by the touch of blind people; the locations of plants in the garden was indicated in braille on the globe. (Marc C. Perkins)
The Braille world globe seen in front of the waterfall.

The globe was contributed to the project by the club advisor, OCC Ornamental Horticulture Professor Rick Harlow. It features the world geography in exaggerated relief, so all the land on the globe can be sensed by touch. The club added Braille markers to the globe indicating where all the Braille-labeled plants are from.

A closeup view of the braille world globe in Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  The garden's centerpiece is a 1957 restored globe for the blind, with the world geography in exaggerated height to be sensed by the touch of blind people; the locations of plants in the garden was indicated in braille on the globe. (Marc C. Perkins)
A closeup view of the braille world globe.

The garden has other features to help the visually impaired, including wind chimes and a waterfall to provide auditory cues to direction, easy to use railings, easily sensible floor textures, and a speaking weather meter. The bottom of the waterfall grabbed my attention:

A closeup of the water feature installed in Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  This is a long exposure image, so the water blurred into nice streams. (Marc C. Perkins)The garden is just plain beautiful; it’s amazing what the club was able to do with such a limited space in just a few days.

A view of the braille world globe and one of the garden benches of Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  The garden's centerpiece is a 1957 restored globe for the blind, with the world geography in exaggerated height to be sensed by the touch of blind people; the locations of plants in the garden was indicated in braille on the globe. (Marc C. Perkins)Doesn’t it call out to you to relax in it?

The garden will be on display for this weekend only (April 27-29, 2012), so if you want to see it come quick!

More pictures

To see more pictures of the garden, head to my two galleries below:

Ute Smith works to artfully wrap a vine around a post at Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's in-progress installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for this year's show is "healing gardens", and the OCC team is installing a "garden for the blind," which will be complete with a braille world globe and braille labels.  This picture was taken Tuesday April 25, 2012 at ~11pm, as the team was working frantically to meet their Thursday-morning deadline.  This image was taken at a high ISO using the ambient light in the dim mall, so it's noisier than my typical images (and thus I'd recommend against printing it large). (Marc C. Perkins)
Garden Installation

A 3/4 view (with award ribbon visible!) of Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  The garden's centerpiece is a 1957 restored globe for the blind, with the world geography in exaggerated height to be sensed by the touch of blind people; the locations of plants in the garden was indicated in braille on the globe.  This picture was taken Thursday April 27, 2012 at ~9pm, less than 48 hours after my in-progress pictures. (Marc C. Perkins)
Completed Garden

OCC’s team also won first place in the 2011 competition, and I have a few pictures of that garden in my 2011 Horticulture Garden Gallery.

Getting There

South Coast Plaza is at the intersection of the 405 Freeway and Bristol St. in Costa Mesa, CA. The garden show is located in the portion of the mall that houses the Crate and Barrel and Apple stores. Parking and admission are free.

Amaryllis flower buds

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum sp. cultivars) are grown in most cold regions of the United States as an indoor houseplant that people work hard to force to flower. One of the nice things about living in coastal Orange County is that plants like amaryllis can live year-round outdoors in the soil, and need no forcing to flower.

We put in a few small plants 7 or 8 years ago, and they’re now giant bulbs that send up multiple flower stalks every spring. I’ve been watching this year’s flowering stalks grow daily, and finally made some time last week to go out and get some pictures.

Three young developing amaryllis ([Hippeastrum] sp cultivar) inflorescences can be seen growing on their scapes, long leafless stems that support them.  Amaryllis inflorescences contain multiple flowers that develop inside spathes, bracts (modified leaves) that surround the young flowers.  The two spathes are just starting to split open on the closest flower, revealing a bit of red from one of the flowers.  The two flower stalks in the background are blurred out of focus.  This image was captured outside using natural light; no flowers were harmed in the production of this image. (Marc C. Perkins)
Teamwork: Three developing amaryllis inflorescences.

Amaryllis flowers grow in inflorescences, clusters of multiple flowers growing from a single leafless stalk called a scape (three scapes with their developing inflorescences are visible in the picture above). The actual flowers develop at the tips of the scapes surrounded by two modified leaves (bracts) called spathes.

In the image above you can see the two spathes starting to split apart on the front-most inflorescence, revealing one of the red amaryllis flowers inside. As the spathes open further, the multiple flowers contained inside start to elongate their pedicels (the stalks that attach each flower to the scape) and they emerge from the spathes:

An amaryllis ([Hippeastrum] sp. cultivar) inflorescence pictured just as its flower buds are emerging from their sheath.  There are three red and green flowers easily visible.  These flowers are growing from a scape, a leafless stem that is used to support flowers.  The three emerging buds are surrounded by two spathes, bracts (modified leaves) that surround the flowers as they develop (and then stay present as the flowers bloom).  This image was taken outdoors using natural lighting on an intact plant growing in my yard; no flowers were destroyed in the making of this image :) (Marc C. Perkins)
Opening Day: Three amaryllis flower buds emerge from their sheath

Amaryllis are showy, long-lasting flowers, but I think the buds are under-appreciated.

Technically these shots were fun to capture. I wanted to create a studio-esque feel, so the viewer could focus on the details of the buds themselves without distraction from the background. I worked on a partly cloudy day, and set up a black backdrop behind the subjects I wanted to photograph, using a reflector to add highlights or fill as needed. The second image is a blend of five images to get additional depth of field (using the technique described in my poinsettia behind the scenes post), but the first is a single-frame capture. All plants were left completely intact, and if all goes well they’ll be in full flower soon.

More pictures

To see more of my pictures of plants, head to my plants portfolio page or my botany demonstrations gallery.

Here are two more images of amaryllis. The first is another image from the day’s work (a single inflorescence up close) and the second is a closeup of one of my amaryllis flowers from last year.

A young developing amaryllis ([Hippeastrum] sp cultivar) flower just starting to emerge from its sheath.  Amaryllis flowers grow on a scape, a long leafless stem, and develop inside spathes, bracts (modified leaves) that surround an inflorescence (cluster of multiple flowers).  The two spathes are just starting to split open, revealing a bit of red from one of the flowers.  This image was captured outside using natural light, with a reflector used to angle light on to highlight the texture of the flower bud's tip.  No flowers were harmed in the production of this image. (Marc C. Perkins) Amaryllis are commonly grown as indoor plants in cold regions, but here in Southern California I can grown them out in my yard.  The flowers are absolutely huge, and I wanted to capture the immensity of the blooms with this picture.  Seen in the background is a plot of roses, with a post-sunset dusky sky in the background.  As a side note, this may actually be a Hippeastrum, as plants sold as Amaryllis are apparently often actually Hippeastrum. (Marc C. Perkins)

Cats for adoption: Zoey and Porsche

Zoey and Porsche are two sisters waiting for a home in Orange County, CA. ¬†They’re both short-haired white and black bicolor female cats with yellow-green eyes.

Zoey, a less than year old short-haired white and black bicolor female cat with yellow green eyes up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA, is held by Mindy, owner of Miss Kitty's Rescue.  Zoey is sisters with Porsche, and the two need to be adopted together as a pair.  Zoey has a little bit of lipstick on her face, thanks to a recent "kiss" from Mindy.  Zoey has a nipped left ear, a sign that she may have been captured in a catch-and-release spay program for feral cats.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Zoey
Porsche, a less than year old short-haired white and black bicolor female cat with yellow green eyes up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA, is held by Mindy, owner of Miss Kitty's Rescue.  Porsche is sisters with Zoey (seen in other pictures), and the two need to be adopted together as a pair.  She has a cute black spot on her pink nose, and is probably a mask-and-mantle pattern. Porsche has a nipped left ear, a sign that she may have been captured in a catch-and-release spay program for feral cats.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Porsche

They’re both less than a year old, and they need to be adopted together as a pair. They’re ¬†a bit shy and scared in the rescue, but they’re very playful with toys and each other, and will warm up once they get to a house where they’re given a space they can call their own.

Zoey (front; black nose) and Porsche (rear; black dot on her pink nose) are two sisters waiting for adoption.  They're both less than year old short-haired white and black bicolor female cats with yellow green eyes up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  The two need to be adopted together as a pair.  Both have nipped left ears, a sign that they may have been captured in a catch-and-release spay program for feral cats.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Zoey (front; black nose) and Porsche (rear; black dot on her pink nose)
Zoey peers out from behind a wall, wondering who's taking pictures of her.  Zoey, a less than year old white and black bicolor female cat with yellow green eyes up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA, is held by Mindy, owner of Miss Kitty's Rescue.  Zoey is sisters with Porsche, and the two need to be adopted together as a pair.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Zoey peers out from behind a wall.
A close-up view of Zoey, a less than year old short-haired white and black bicolor female cat with yellow green eyes up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  Zoey is sisters with Porsche (seen blurred in the background), and the two need to be adopted together as a pair.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Zoey

Zoey and Porsche are currently available for adoption through Miss Kitty’s Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA. For more information on the cats, and to find out how to adopt them, contact Mindy at misskittysrescue@yahoo.com.

More kitties?

To see more cats available for adoption at Miss Kitty’s Rescue in Orange County, CA, head to my cats available for adoption in Orange County, CA page.

To see more cat pictures I’ve taken, you can see a list of all of my pet posts, or head straight to my pets portfolio page.

Cats up for adoption in Orange County, CA

Are you looking for a cute cat or kitten to adopt in Costa Mesa, California? ¬†Here’s a list of some of the cats currently available for adoption through Miss Kitty’s Rescue:

[Note: Click each cat’s image or name to see more information about the cat.]

Zoey, a less than year old short-haired white and black bicolor female cat with yellow green eyes up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA, is held by Mindy, owner of Miss Kitty's Rescue.  Zoey is sisters with Porsche, and the two need to be adopted together as a pair.  Zoey has a little bit of lipstick on her face, thanks to a recent "kiss" from Mindy.  Zoey has a nipped left ear, a sign that she may have been captured in a catch-and-release spay program for feral cats.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins) Porsche, a less than year old short-haired white and black bicolor female cat with yellow green eyes up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA, is held by Mindy, owner of Miss Kitty's Rescue.  Porsche is sisters with Zoey (seen in other pictures), and the two need to be adopted together as a pair.  She has a cute black spot on her pink nose, and is probably a mask-and-mantle pattern. Porsche has a nipped left ear, a sign that she may have been captured in a catch-and-release spay program for feral cats.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Zoey and Porsche

Hurricane, a seven year old male short-haired black cat, staring into the camera for a portrait.  Hurricane is a very intelligent, outgoing cat who loves people and is not afraid of anything, but who needs to live in a house without other pets as he can be aggressive to other dogs and cats.  Hurricane is up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Hurricane

Trista, a three year old female short-haired brown tabby cat with green eyes (and a white chin), playing with a feather toy from behind a sisal-wrapped cat tree post.   Trista has a face that looks somewhat like a mountain lion to me; a bit more elongated than your typical domesticated cat.  Trista is up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Trista

If you’re interested in adopting any of these cats, please contact Mindy of Miss Kitty’s Rescue at misskittysrescue@yahoo.com. ¬†Some of these cats may also be available to be seen at the Petsmart at¬†620 West 17th St in Costa Mesa, CA 92627.

Kitties who have found a home

These cats have been adopted into a loving home:

Oliver, a two year old male short-haired brown tabby and white cat, looks peacefully just off camera.  Oliver is a sweet cat who needs a home with no dogs and no kids.  Oliver is up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Oliver

Molly, a two year old bicolor tuxedo white and black short-haired cat, looks at her cage door.  Molly is a very playful and fun loving cat who loves to ride on people's shoulders and interact with dogs; she would not be good with small children.  Molly is up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Molly

About Miss Kitty’s Rescue

Miss Kitty’s Rescue is a cat rescue group run by Mindy Miller in Costa Mesa, California. ¬†Michelle and I adopted our two cats from Mindy; they were both former feral cats that Mindy tamed herself, and she turned the two of them from fearful, nearly wild cats into two kitties who love spending time with us.

As with most cat rescues, however, Mindy’s rescue is constantly full, and she has trouble finding people to adopt her rescued cats, especially since many of the cats need special homes. To help her out I’ve volunteered to take pictures of her cats pro bono, so she can use them in her own advertising. ¬†She has also asked me to do whatever advertising I can for the cats, and thus I’ve created this post, which will link to all the cats.

More kitties?

To see more cat pictures I’ve taken, you can see a list of all of my pet posts, or head straight to my pets portfolio page.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse pictures

After taking pictures of pelicans at La Jolla this past January, Greg and I headed down to Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego to get pictures of Old Point Loma Lighthouse. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but the lighthouse was what I was really looking forward to when I woke up that day; birds and sunrises are fun and all, but I have a mild obsession with lighthouses1.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse stands on the top of a hill at the end of Point Loma, one of the peninsulas that shelter San Diego’s natural harbor.

Old Point Loma Light standing proud, seen end-on from the south on a sunny winter day.  The light is in Cabrillo National Monument near San Diego, CA.  Framing the lighthouse are three withered agave inflorescences along with fields of green bushes and trees.  The assistant keeper's quarters are visible as a separate white building behind the inflorescences. (Marc C. Perkins)
Old Point Loma Lighthouse: From the south.

The two buildings visible in that image are the primary lighthouse (the multi-story painted brick building to the left) and the assistant keeper’s house (to the right).

The lighthouse and its tower are entrancing with their contrast and symmetry:

A somewhat cropped view of Old Point Loma Light as seen from the east on a crystal clear blue sky winter's day.    The bright white painted brick building contrasts with the clear blue sky and black lantern room.  The flagpole (currently lacking a flag) can be seen to the right of the house.  The windows of the lighthouse are just barely visible at the bottom of the crop.  While I generally prefer pictures of lighthouses either tightly cropped or whole with their surroundings3, I find this view of the house to be strangely entrancing.  It seems to be standing alone in front of a clear blue sky; what's before it and behind it are unknown, open to the viewer to decide. (Marc C. Perkins)
Old Point Loma Lighthouse: From the East.

The lighthouse started operation in 1855 with a Fresnel lens; its light was visible¬†more than 25 miles out to sea.¬†¬†The lighthouse currently contains the Fresnel lens from the Mile Rocks lighthouse that was moved to the lighthouse in the 1980’s and installed with the light offset by a few inches (so it’s not nearly as powerful as it should be).

The lens and latern room are gorgeous up close:

A close-up view of the lantern room and its attached black-painted balcony seen from beneath.  The lantern room appears to be towering above the viewer, and the details on the lantern room's green (copper?) roof are easily visible.  For instance, the room can be seen to have lion or gargoyle figureheads at each of the room's 10 corners, and above each window is a cut-out pattern in the roof's edging of what look to be waves heading towards each other with the cutouts themselves appearing to be horns.   A black ladder climbs to the top of the copper roof, reading the large dome on top.  The white, black, and green building contrast beautifully with the dark blue sky. The lighthouse is in Cabrillo National Monument near San Diego, CA.  I have another version of this same view that is less cropped, if you want. (Marc C. Perkins)
Old Point Loma's Lantern Room and Attached Balcony

I didn’t notice these fully while on the site, but when I processed the images I discovered that the edge of the tower’s roof is finished with beautiful details:

A highly-cropped detail view of my "Old Point Loma: towering lantern room" image.  This crop shows the beautiful details of the construction of the lantern room's room, including lion or gargoyle figureheads at each of the roof's 10 corners, and a vertical cut-out portion of metal above each window.  This cut out patterns appears to be made to look like a series of waves heading towards each other, with the cutouts themselves appearing to be horns.   The lighthouse is in Cabrillo National Monument near San Diego, CA.  As this is a severe crop, this image is not suitable to be printed exceptionally large (maybe up to 8 or 10" wide?), though the image it comes from can probably be printed up to 20"x30". (Marc C. Perkins)
Cropped detail view of "Old Point Loma's Lantern Room and Attached Balcony"

I love the cutouts on the roof’s edging, with their Escher-esque detailing. If you look at the metal itself, it’s cut into patterns of waves flowing into each other, yet if you look at the void spaces you can see either horns or birds (I see horns, Michelle sees birds). There are also gargoyles / lions at each corner of the roof. I wonder if these details are original, or a later addition.

Old Point Loma Light is in Cabrillo National Monument near San Diego, CA.  This image is made from just south of the assistant keeper's house, showing the points of both the roofs of that building and the main lighthouse with its chimney.  Behind these, standing tall, is the lantern room of the lighthouse, with its installed lens.  The bright white buildings contrast with the clear blue sky and black lantern room. (Marc C. Perkins)
Old Point Loma Lighthouse: Angles

As the lighthouse is no longer a functioning navigational light (it was decommissioned in 1891 due to frequent interference from fog), it’s open daily for people to explore. While the latern room itself is sealed off, visitors can climb the staircase to nearly the top of the lighthouse tower (to where the window is in the “From the East” picture above). Climbing lighthouse stairways is just awesome, and this one had a little landing Greg and I could set up on to photograph the beautiful symmetry.

Lighthouse staircases are just plain awesome, and Old Point Loma Light's stairway in Cabrillo National Monument is no exception.  Greg and I spent a good half hour up at the top trying various compositions, waiting for people to stop walking in, and admiring the Nautilus-like stairway.  To bring out the textures and lines I prefer this in black and white, especially since the colors aren't particularly grabbing. (Marc C. Perkins)
Old Point Loma Lighthouse: Nautilus Stairway

That was one cramped little landing with all of our gear set up, and we both had to wait quite a while for an opportunity to capture images of the stairs with nobody else in the tower. But it was worth it, and how could one possibly mind spending time inside a lighthouse? ūüôā

I’ll leave you with a final overview image, showing the lighthouse and it’s rebuilt concrete water-catchment basin with native plant landscaping:

A wide-angle view of Old Point Loma Light as seen from the east on a crystal clear blue sky winter's day.  The foreground bushes mostly block the concrete water catchment basin.  The lighthouse itself is clearly visible, as is the assistant keeper's house (to the left).  Note: Please contact me if you're interested in purchasing this image for use printed or displayed large, as I should give you some background on the image (the sky has been burned to reduce uneven polarization, and it should be test-printed before final images are made). (Marc C. Perkins)
A wide-angle view of Old Point Loma Lighthouse and the assistant keeper's house.

Oh, and if you want to see the scale of the stairway in the tower, here’s a self portrait of me in the stairway:

I'm standing on the second level of the stairway to the top of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse in Cabrillo National Monument, waving up at the camera.  Greg (of Alpenglow Images Photography) is nicely pressing the trigger of my tripod-mounted camera. (Marc C. Perkins)
Some photographer got in my shot, darn it!

Stay tuned for more lighthouse pictures!

1 This will hopefully be the inaugural post of a multi-post series highlighting lighthouses I’ve photographed in the past year. And don’t get me wrong – the pelicans at La Jolla Cove turned out to be awesome.

More pictures

To see more pictures from the lighthouse, head to my Old Point Loma Lighthouse Gallery or click on the thumbnails below.

A head-on look at the lantern room and lens of Old Point Loma Light, seen from the east.  The window visible in the lantern tower is the one visitor's can look out when they climb the lighthouse stairs.  The lighthouse's green (copper) roof is clearly visible, with its beautiful cut-out wave edging visible.  The shingle roof of the lighthouse's main building is visible at the bottom of the picture.  The lighthouse is in Cabrillo National Monument near San Diego, CA. (Marc C. Perkins) Old Point Loma Light is in Cabrillo National Monument near San Diego, CA.  This close-up shot of the lantern room seen from the south shows the currently-installed third order lens (from the Mile Rocks Lighthouse, reportedly), black balcony and maintenance latter for the roof.  The chimney of the lighthouse and roof of the assistant keeper's house can be seen in the foreground. (Marc C. Perkins)

Getting There

Cabrillo National Monument: Old Point Loma Lighthouse is in Cabrillo National Monument, which is at the end of Point Loma peninsula in San Diego, CA. The national monument’s webpage has an excellent directions page, including a great regional map. From interstate 5 you’ll need to take a few turns on city streets that aren’t necessarily well marked, so print out a good map or have your GPS handy. You’ll also be driving through an active naval base to arrive at the national monument, so park hours are strictly enforced. You’ll need to pay an entrance fee; parking was plentiful on site when we arrived on a winter weekday morning.

Waves crashing over the La Jolla Children’s Pool Beach sea wall

Greg and I walked to La Jolla Children’s Pool Beach (Casa Beach) back in January after we got our pelican pictures at La Jolla Cove. La Jolla Children’s pool is a small area of sandy beach that’s been walled in by a beautiful brick sea wall, apparently with the plan being that children could go swimming. Seals have had other plans for the beach, though, so there aren’t many children.

While I’m not entirely pleased with my seal pictures from the day, there was something else on view: waves crashing into the sea wall.

Water cascades over a brick sea wall at La Jolla Children's Pool, with its slightly rusty fence visible to the top.  A wave has just hit the wall, and white foamy water is flying over the bricks as the water crashes to the sea in front of the wall.  This contrasts with the perfectly calm blue water in the background. (Marc C. Perkins)
Crash of the wave; La Jolla Children's Pool, San Diego.

Big waves were somewhat infrequent, so I wasn’t able to get too many good captures, but I did get these two.

Water cascades over a brick sea wall at La Jolla Children's Pool on a gorgeous sunny winter day.  A wave has just hit the wall, and white foamy drops  are dripping and streaming off the bricks, as the water foams to the side and front of the wall.  The water and sky, though, are perfectly calm, making a great contrast. (Marc C. Perkins)
Cascade of the wave; La Jolla Children's Pool, San Diego.

My only problem is this: I can’t decide which picture I like better. Each time I look at the pair I pick one that I like, but then I wait a few days, come back, and find myself preferring the other one.

So, I need you, my kind reader, to solve this dilemma for me. Which do you like better?

Getting There

La Jolla Children’s Pool Beach (Casa Beach): Found in La Jolla (San Diego), the beach is (to quote Wikipedia) “located at 850 Coast Boulevard, at the end of Jenner Street, in La Jolla, California.” Greg and I left our cars in the lot we used for our pelican pictures (directions can be found in this post) and walked; it was a very pleasant 10 minute or so walk. I have no idea how available parking is in La Jolla or what would be the best location to park, so I can’t help you much; sorry. The beach can be freely accessed by walking down a few concrete stairs, but much of the beach’s sand is roped off to allow seals to lay on the beach unperturbed.

Aphids on oat grass

As I was taking my oat grass guttation pictures, I kept an eye out for cute critters on my newly planted grass. And, of course, there were some:

A small family of green aphids stands on the end of a stalk of tack oat grass, {Avena sativa}, that has a tiny drop of clear water at the tip (because it is guttating due to high-humidity).  There is one larger aphid (most likely a wingless parthenogenetically reproducing female, possibly a fundatrix) and six smaller aphids (probably her offspring / babies).  I'm not certain what species of aphid these are, but they may be {Diuraphis noxia}, the Russian Wheat Aphid.  Aphids are phloem feeding parasites, so this isn't a good sign for the grass, but I think they're absolutely adorable with their spindly little legs, long antennae, and red eyes.  So cute! Having just a couple of blades of grass blurred out of focus in the background gives context without distracting from the aphids.  The scale bar (lower-right) is 1mm long; a version of this image without the scale bar is available upon request. (Marc C. Perkins)
Home on the range: A small family of green aphids on an oat grass {Avena sativa} leaf. The scale bar (lower-right) is 1mm long.

That’s a young family of aphids, just starting out in life. Aphids are phloem-feeding plant parasites, so they’re sittin’ there having lunch. ¬†They have a proboscis they insert into the leaf’s phloem vessels, which they then drink like a soda through a straw. Phloem is just about as nutritious as soda, so aphids have serious problems getting enough nutrition and dealing with the sugar overload, but that’s the topic for another post (and probably another blog …).

The larger aphid is almost certainly a parthenogentically reproducing female. She reproduces asexually, creating more daughter offspring from just her own unfertilized eggs. Yes, kids, that does mean that she can have baby aphids without any daddy aphids around.

So, the six smaller aphids (called nymphs until they mature) are almost certainly her offspring. The mother will keep producing more and more offspring asexually, and these offspring themselves will almost certainly be able to parthenogentically reproduce as well1. That grass stalk won’t be happy for long.

It can often be hard to tell from web-sized images how much detail is contained in the original capture. Since I know you’re thinking that these aphids are adorably cute, here’s a crop of the image above focusing on them (see the same crop as a larger image¬†here):

This is a severe crop of my original "Home on the Range" image, highlighting the detail visible on the aphids.  A small family of green aphids stands on the end of a stalk of tack oat grass, {Avena sativa}, that has a tiny drop of clear water at the tip (because it is guttating due to high-humidity).  There is one larger aphid (most likely a wingless parthenogenetically reproducing female, possibly a fundatrix) and six smaller aphids (probably her offspring / babies).  I'm not certain what species of aphid these are, but they may be {Diuraphis noxia}, the Russian Wheat Aphid.  The scale bar (lower-right) is 1mm long; a version of this image without the scale bar is available upon request. (Marc C. Perkins)
Crop of my "Home on the Range" image; the scale bar is still 1mm long.

I’m not certain what species these aphids are, but I suspect they may be¬†Diuraphis noxia, the Russian Wheat Aphid.

Oh, and the small drop of water at the tip of the grass stalk is there because the grass is guttating Рexuding water from its tip due to root pressure. I write about that more in this post.

1 Winged and/or sexually reproducing individuals can also be born, typically when environmental conditions change dramatically (e.g., the onset of winter, or depletion of the food source).

More pictures

To see more of my botany-related pictures, head to my Botany Demonstrations gallery.

Botany demonstration: Guttation in oat grass

My cats love to nibble on grass, and so I grow tack oats (Avena sativa) from seed for them. About six months ago I figured out that on cool, humid mornings the grass could be seen guttating. At the time I lacked my macro lens, and so did the best I could and got this image. ¬†It’s an okay image, but I don’t like the choice of background in retrospect, and I also wanted to get in closer and show just a few stalks of grass so the water drops would be more obvious.

Over the weekend some newly planted grass was again demonstrating guttation, so I tried anew:

Three stalks of tack oat grass {Avena sativa}  with large drops of clear water at their tips stand against a black background with multiple other strands of grass blurred out of focus in the background.  The water is present because the grass is guttating; guttation is a process wherein plants release water at the tips of their stems due to root pressure.  I like how the other strands of grass give the image a feeling as though it's taken in a lawn or field of grass, without distracting from the primary element (the guttation).   This is an uncropped image, so it should be able to be enlarged to print at 16x24" easily. (Marc C. Perkins)
Three stalks of oat grass demonstrating guttation.

Guttation is caused by root pressure building up so that water is squeezed out pores (hydathodes) at the tips or sides of a plant’s leaves. It typically happens at night, under cool, moist conditions when the soil is well hydrated. As Wikipedia says, it’s important to note that guttation and dew are two completely separate phenomena.

To demonstrate guttation in a typical botany science lab , a technician sets up a few-weeks-old pot of grass under a bell jar, waters it thoroughly, and leaves it for the night. The next morning tiny drops of water cover the plant’s leaves. ¬†One thing I like about my example is that it’s ¬†free of lab manipulation: this pot of grass was just sitting ¬†on my porch when I saw the guttation and brought it in to photograph.

Two stalks of tack oat grass {Avena sativa} stand against a black background with large drops of clear water at their tips.  The water is present because the grass is guttating; guttation is a process wherein plants release water at the tips of their stems due to root pressure.  This closeup also includes a tiny strand of spider silk connecting a hook on the top-most blade of grass to an unseen blade of grass off-camera left.  This image is on a clean black background, with only two other strands of grass even in the frame, and both of those are blurred out of focus to not detract from the two primary focal points.  This is an uncropped image, so it should be able to be enlarged to print at 16x24" easily.  The scale bar (lower-left) is 1mm long; a version of this image without the scale bar is available upon request. (Marc C. Perkins)
Two guttating oat grass stalks with a strand of spider silk leading off camera. Scale bar (lower-left) is 1mm long.

If you’re curious how I photographed these, I used a technique much like1 that used with my poinsettia flower closeups; see my behind the scenes post¬†for more details.

1 The first image is a single-frame capture; the second is a multi-image blend to increase depth of field. Both use a studio setup almost identical to the poinsettia setup, except I used reflected direct sunlight to aid in illumination.

More pictures

To see more of my botany-related pictures, head to my Botany Demonstrations gallery.

Gulls at La Jolla

In addition to the pelicans Greg and I found in La Jolla last week (see post 1 and post 2), there were also a lot of western gulls (Larus occidentalis) on the cliffs. While the pelicans are a bit showier, I think the gulls are every bit as gorgeous:

This western gull (Larus occidentalis) is standing in front of a rock on a coastal cliff with the blue ocean visibile blurred in the background.  Getting the proper exposure to bring out the detail in their white feathers was non-trivial!  Note: a small piece of debris on the bird's feathers was digitally removed; I can provide an unedited version of the image if needed/desired. (Marc C. Perkins)
Western gull: standing by the sea.

With the gulls I also wanted to try something a bit more landscape-ish, putting them in context with the sloping oceanside cliffs leading to a sea of blue. I’m happiest with this attempt:

This western gull (Larus occidentalis) is sitting on a rock in front of a coastal cliff with the blue ocean and sky visibile blurred in the background.  Getting the proper exposure to bring out the detail in their white feathers was non-trivial! (Marc C. Perkins)
Western gull: relaxing morning on the ocean cliffs.

After our morning with the birds we photographed seals and lighthouses, but those pictures will have to wait for another post.

More pictures

To see more pictures from the day, head to my Birds: Pelicans and gulls gallery

Getting There

La Jolla Cove Cliffs: This location doesn’t have an official name as far as I can tell, but it’s accessed from a small parking lot on the right side of Coast Blvd. in La Jolla (San Diego, CA), just after Coast Blvd. branches off from Prospect Place. The best I can do for you is give you GPS coordinates: N 32.84936 W 117.27038. Parking at the location is highly limited (and has a 2-hour max during the day), but it’s a short walk from other parking areas in La Jolla and the lot was virtually empty when I got there half an hour before sunrise on a weekday. The cliffs are accessed from a stairway that descends from the parking lot; be careful to stay well back from the edge, as the cliffs are steep and venturing too far forward will scare the birds away and prevent them from landing.